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Everything You Need to Know About Balut: The Strange but Delicious Filipino Dish
Table of contents
What Is Balut?
Balut is a popular street food in the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia. It’s a duck egg that has been incubated for about two weeks before being boiled and eaten. The egg is then cracked open to reveal a partially-developed duck embryo inside. The embryo can range from slightly underdeveloped to almost fully formed (although this is rare).
The flavor of Balut depends on how long the egg was incubated before being cooked. Generally speaking, the longer the egg was incubated, the stronger its flavor will be. In addition to its unique taste, balut also has a unique texture—it’s both chewy and crunchy at the same time!
How To Make Balut
Making balut requires some patience and a bit of skill—but don’t worry, because we’ll walk you through it step by step! First off, you'll need to purchase duck eggs from your local grocery store or market. You'll want to make sure that the eggs are still fresh; if they're too old they won't hatch properly. Once you've purchased your eggs, place them in an incubator at around 37°C (99°F) for about two weeks until they hatch into small ducks or chicks. Finally, when ready remove them from the incubator and boil them for around 15 minutes before serving hot with your favorite dipping sauce!
What Does Balut Taste Like?
Balut has a creamy texture and a slightly gamey flavor. The texture of the egg itself is quite similar to hard-boiled eggs, but with more flavor and the added surprise of biting into an embryo. In the Philippines, balut is typically seasoned with garlic, vinegar, onions, chili peppers, and even kalamansi lime juice for extra flavor.
How to Eat Balut?
There is a correct way to eat balut. If you eat it the wrong way, you will not be able to fully appreciate the balut. First, let's learn how to eat them in advance.
- First, crack open the eggshell and carefully remove the top part.
- Turn the thin skin to expose the duck embryo inside.
- Season with salt and vinegar to taste and drink the soup.
- Peel off the entire shell and eat the embryo inside.
- After eating, ask the stall owner to give you water to wash your hands.
The first trick to eating the egg is to decide which side of the egg you want to crack the shell on first. Depending on the shape of the egg, it may be difficult to tell which is top and bottom. If this is the case, use the light of your smartphone to look through the shell and you will see that a cavity has formed on either the top or bottom. It is easier to drink the soup if you break the one with the cavity formed. When eating balut, be careful not to swallow the shell! The shells are sharp and can be dangerous if accidentally swallowed.
Where to Buy Balut
The easiest way for tourists to buy balut is from street vendors around the country. These vendors can be found in almost every city or town, usually near the markets or other areas with lots of foot traffic. You may also find some restaurants that serve balut, although they are less common than street vendors. It's important to remember that these vendors often sell out quickly, so if you want to make sure you get your hands on some balut, it's best to go early in the day when they first open up.
Why People Don't Like Balut
The most common argument against balut is that it's too weird to stomach. After all, when you crack open the shell of this dish, you’re met with an underdeveloped duck embryo that still has feathers, bones, and even a beak intact. It’s obvious why this might not appeal to everyone! It takes a particularly adventurous eater to try balut for the first time, especially since there are plenty of other delicious snacks available in Southeast Asia.
Why People Like Balut
On the flip side, many people swear by balut and can't get enough of it. For starters, it’s full of protein and vitamins—a single egg can easily provide your daily dose of calcium and phosphorous! Plus, if you like savory snacks with a unique flavor profile, balut may be right up your alley; depending on how long it's been incubated (anywhere from 14–21 days), the texture and taste can range from crunchy to creamy with delicate notes of sweetness. From street vendors to upscale restaurants, there are plenty of places where you can enjoy this traditional dish without having to break out of your comfort zone too much.
At the end of the day, whether or not you should try balut comes down to personal preference—there is no right or wrong answer here! If you're feeling adventurous while traveling through Southeast Asia, feel free to give it a go; if not, there are plenty more dishes available that won't give you any fear or anxiety. Whatever path you choose in the end will be one full of delicious flavors and amazing experiences!
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